Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Return of the Street Fighter

Directed by Shigehiro Ozawa and written by Hajime Koiwa with English dialogue by Steve Autry, Return of the Street Fighter is the sequel to the 1974 film The Street Fighter in which Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi goes on a war against the Yakuza for stealing money from charities. The film has Tsurugi trying to be the hero despite his anti-hero persona as he is once again played by Sonny Chiba. Also starring Yoko Ichiji and Masashi “Milton” Ishibashi. Return of the Street Fighter is a wild and stylish film from Shigehiro Ozawa.

The film is the story of this mercenary in Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi who continues to do work for money where he finds himself targeted by the Yakuza after refusing to kill a master who is suspicious of the organization taking money away from charities. It’s a film with a simple plot as it play into this man who is once again set up after refusing to kill someone he actually admires as well as the fact that he is also on the run from the police for killing two men he was hired to kill. Even as it plays into the world of corruption where a Yakuza boss is trying to embezzle money for a martial arts institute in Tokyo for Asia which was really a front for his organization. When the karate master Kendo Masaoka (Masafumi Suzuki) discovers his name being forged, he starts to question things and nearly gets killed prompting Tsurugi to do what is right as he would also go against an old foe.

Shigehiro Ozawa’s direction is quite simple while it is also very stylized in his compositions and the way he presents the action sequences. Shot largely in Tokyo, Ozawa’s direction has this immediacy in the opening sequence as it relates to the job that Tsurugi is being asked as it play into that sense of frenetic action and chaos. Even as it isn’t afraid to play into its low-budget aesthetics where there are moments where the violence is silly and fake blood is shown. Even at one point, there’s a moment that is quite graphic but also ridiculous where Ozawa isn’t afraid to display that humor. Ozawa would use footage from the previous film as flashbacks to establish some of the back story and characters from the previous films. All of which play into the motivation for Tsurugi to go out there and kick ass in a climax that is just over-the-top but also filled with thrills. Overall, Ozawa creates an exhilarating and crazy film about a mercenary taking names and kicking some fuckin’ ass.

Cinematographer Sadaji Yoshida does excellent work with the film‘s grainy cinematography from the usage of black-and-white for the flashbacks as well creating some lighting and moods for some of the fight scenes including its climax. Editor Kozo Horiike does nice work with the editing with its usage of a few fast-cuts as well as other rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and action. Art director Norimichi Igawa does fantastic work with the look of the home base of the Yakuza boss as well as the dojo run by Masaoka. The film’s music by Toshiaki Tsushima is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral music and rock as it play into the air of excitement into the fights as well as in some of the moments of suspense.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Claude Gagnon as a mysterious mute man, Hiroshi Tanaka as a Yakuza boss in Otaguro, Naoki Shima as a police investigator named Yamagami trying to help Masaoka, and Masahashi “Milton” Ishibashi as an old foe of Tsurugi in Junjo. Masafumi Suzuki is superb as the karate master Masaoka whom Tsurugi has great respect for as he refuses to kill him for Otaguro and the Mafia. Yoko Ichiji is alright as Kitty as a young woman who aids Tsurugi as she is really a double working for the Mafia where she eventually falls for Tsurugi despite her nerdy appearance. Finally, there’s Sonny Chiba in a remarkable performance as Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi as this mercenary who isn’t afraid to kill or beat anyone up who threatens him as Chiba just maintains that sense that restraint when he isn’t fighting and then just go full-on badass in taking names and kicking some ass.

Return of the Street Fighter is a phenomenal film from Shigehiro Ozawa that features an incredible performance from Sonny Chiba. While it is a film that more of the same in comparison to its predecessor. It is still a film that is a lot of fun while not being afraid of being ridiculous not matter how silly some of the violence is. In the end, Return of the Street Fighter is a sensational film from Shigehiro Ozawa.

Related: The Street Fighter - (The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge)

© thevoid99 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Against the Crowd Blog-a-thon 2016

Last year, Wendell of Dell on Movies created a blog-a-thon that is about defending movies that don’t get a lot love and trash those that do. It was a unique concept last year that I participated in with my piece as it was a lot of fun. This year, Wendell is hosting the blog-a-thon again with Kgothatjo Magolego of KG's Movie Rants. Here are the rules:

1. Pick one movie that "everyone" loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have a score of at least 75% on rottentomatoes.com. Tell us why you hate it.

2. Pick one movie that "everyone" hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of less than 35% on rottentomatoes.com. Tell us why you love it.

3. Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.

4. Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own.

5. Comment on this post, or on KG's Movie Rants with the two movies you intend on writing on.

6. Publish your post on any day from Monday August 22 through Friday August 26, 2016.

Here is what I’m offering:

James L. Brooks is known for not just warm and sentimental comedy-dramas like Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News as the latter is a film that I actually like. The rest of his work however isn’t very good. I don’t think very highly of Terms of Endearment while Spanglish and I’ll Do Anything are mediocre and How Do You Know is just shit. Then there’s As Good as It Gets that is loved by many as it won Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt Oscars. Why would a film that a lot of people love be in this blog-a-thon? Well, here’s why.

It’s an overrated and sappy film that has Jack Nicholson not really doing much but play an exaggerated version of himself with OCD and then fall in love with some dog while Helen Hunt is just absolutely bland in this. How these two won Oscars for very lame performances is beyond me as Peter Fonda should’ve won the Best Actor Oscar for Ulee’s Gold while the Best Actress award could’ve gone to either Julie Christie for Afterglow or Kate Winslet for Titanic. It’s overly-long and doesn’t have any great visuals as it’s really just one of the most overrated film of the 1990s.

Now here’s a film that didn’t get its due in its initial release nor was it shown to a wide audience in the U.S. in the preferred 146-minute director’s cut by Michael Cimino. Given the fact that Cimino was still stinging from the undeserved notoriety he got over 1980’s Heaven’s Gate where he would make four more films until 1996 and never make a feature film ever again as he recently passed away in July of 2016. It’s a shame considering that in recent years that Heaven’s Gate as well as 1985’s Year of the Dragon had been given some re-evaluation with the critics. His 1987 bio-pic on the Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano is an unconventional film that bears a lot of the visual motifs that Cimino is known for as it is clear he is inspired by some of the Italian epics of the 1950s/1960s like Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard. It is a flawed film as Christopher Lambert’s performance is kind of all over the place but it is this fascinating film that explores a man trying to help Sicily in the late 1940s/early 1950s in an attempt to liberate the land from Italy.

The supporting cast that includes Joss Ackland, Richard Bauer, and John Turturro help elevate the film as it explores this idea of old vs. new which is a recurring theme in Cimino’s work. Though Gore Vidal’s script doesn’t put much development into the women characters as well as emphasize a bit on camp. It does help play into the many conflicts that Giuliano would endure as he would even receive help from those he try to defy as it is about the common goal to free Sicily from Italy. More about the film can be explained in this review of the director’s cut of the film as the version that was panned largely by American critics that appear on Rotten Tomatoes is the 115-minute theatrical cut. The director’s cut version of the film is the preferred version as it’s one that audiences need to seek out and give it another chance just like Heaven’s Gate did in recent years.

© thevoid99 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Teatro sin fin

Written, directed, shot, and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky, Teatro sin fin (Melodramatic Sacramentral) is a documentary film of sorts that covers the Panic Movement co-founded by Jodorowsky. The 18-minute film is an exploration of a movement created to explore not just the ideas of surrealism but also in an attempt to keep it away from the mainstream. The result is a weird yet fascinating film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The film is a documentary that explores the performance of the Panic Movement in Paris, France in 1965 which was co-founded by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Fernando Arrabal, and Roland Topor. Taking excerpts from a four-hour performance held in Paris, the film showcases what the group does performances based on surrealism. The performances include topless women dancing, voodoo-inspired rituals with live chickens, a man walking into a vagina and coming out with turtles, and a drummer playing improvised pieces to some of the performances. Shot in black-and-white, Jodorowsky maintains something that is simple and to the point as it explores many of the ideas of the Panic Movement in their performance.

With the aid of editors Francoise Beloux, Catherine Dournion, and Christine Lecouvette, Jodorowsky creates something that play as a sampler of sorts of what the Panic Movement does. Even as it isn’t afraid to be out there as it is also considered something that is the precursor to the psychedelic scene in the U.S. The film’s music by Luc Perrini is a mixture of jazz and rock music as it play into the craziness of the performances as well as its emphasis on surrealism. Overall, Jodorowsky creates a strange yet compelling documentary about the Panic Movement.

Teatro sin fin is an excellent film from Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s a documentary short that isn’t just about a theatrical/art movement that is about bringing surrealism back to Earth but also a group of people trying to create something new. In the end, Teatro sin fin is a superb film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: La Cravate - (Fando y Lis) - El Topo - The Holy Mountain - (Tusk (1980 film)) - (Santa Sangre) - (The Rainbow Thief) - The Dance of Reality - (Endless Poetry)

Related: Jodorowsky's Dune - (The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky)

© thevoid99 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Street Fighter (1974 film)

Directed by Shigehiro Ozawa and written by Koji Takada and Motohiro Torii with English dialogue by Steve Autrey, The Street Fighter is the story of a mercenary who is hired by the Yakuza and the Mafia to kidnap a wealthy heiress only to realize what is at stake as he decides to oppose those who want her kidnapped. The film is the first of a trilogy of films where a man is just fighting and oppose those who go against him as the character of Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi is played by Sonny Chiba. Also starring Doris Nakajima, Gerald Yamata, and Milton Ishibashi. The Street Fighter is an awesome and exhilarating film from Shigehiro Ozawa.

The film revolves a man who is paid to do things as he is asked to kidnap the heiress of an oil company following her father’s death where he begins to realize who wants her and for what as it involves the Yakuza and the Mafia. It’s a film with a simple story where this man named Terry Tsurugi is someone who works for money but is also someone that no one should fuck with as he is a full-on badass that doesn’t take shit from anyone. The film’s script doesn’t have a strong plot but it does play into Tsurugi trying to do what it takes to win and oppose those trying to kill him. Especially when he is asked to do a job for the Yakuza, in affiliation with the Mafia, where he is suspicious knowing that they will set him up proving that he does have some kind of moral and sense of honor. Even those in the Yakuza have his values where they want to do this deal the right way but find themselves clashing with the demands of the Yakuza and the Mafia.

Shigehiro Ozawa’s direction is quite stylish as it isn’t afraid to play up its low-budget aesthetics to create something that is exciting and engaging. Shot largely in Tokyo as well as Kobe in Japan and parts of Hong Kong, the film plays into a world where corruption is starting to become the norm in Asia as it’s all about money and power. While Ozawa would use a few wide shots, he would mostly emphasize on medium shots and close-ups to capture the action as well going for low and slanted camera angles to play into its energy. Ozawa knows when to give the film a break from its action in favor of bits of humor as well as providing a few bits of exposition on Tsurugi. Yet, the film is mainly all action where it isn’t afraid to be graphic in its violence where it can range from intense to just downright silly. Even as there’s moments where Tsurugi will fight women as it is clear that he’s a dick but a dick is about getting the job done no matter what he has to do. Overall, Ozawa creates a wild and fun film about a mercenary kicking the holy shit out of the bad guys and then some.

Cinematographer Ken Tsukakoshi does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its low-grade stock to play into the look of the locations as well as creating some unique lighting in some of the nighttime interior/exterior scenes. Editor Kozo Horiike does brilliant work with the editing as it is very stylized with its jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts to play into the action. Production designer Takatoshi Suzuki does fantastic work with the look of a local dojo owned by a relative of the late oil tycoon as well as the home of a Yakuza leader. The film’s music by Toshiaki Tsushima is amazing for its mixture of orchestral-based music with bits of rock to play into its energy and craziness.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Fumio Watanabe as a boss that Tsurugi works for occasionally, Tony Cetera as a business partner of Sarai’s father, Masafumi Suzuki as a karate master who is also Sarai’s uncle that asks Tsurugi for help, Jiro Chiba and Etsuko Shihomi as a couple of siblings who fail to pay Tsurugi for freeing their brother Junjo, and Rin’ichi Yamamoto in a terrific performance as a Hong Kong crime boss named Dinsau who bears some old values about honor. Masahashi “Milton” Ishibashi is excellent as Junjo as an infamous crime figure whom Tsurugi would free only to want to go against Tsurugi in a fair fight over some debt. Goichi “Gerald” Yamada is brilliant as Tsurugi’s assistant Ratnose who does whatever he can to help his friend as he is a mixture of comic relief and the film’s conscience.

Yukata “Doris” Nakajima is wonderful as Sarai as a heiress to an oil company that is the target of a kidnapping as she is reluctant to accept the protection of Tsurugi while learning the truth about what happened to her father. Finally, there’s Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba in a phenomenal performance as Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi as this mercenary who takes jobs for money as he finds himself at odds with the Yakuza and the Mafia where he does whatever it takes to survive and do what is right. Even as he does things that aren’t cool like hitting women or do things that are ultra-violent yet Chiba still maintains that air of awesomeness in his performance as it’s really the most iconic role of his career.

The Street Fighter is a spectacular film from Shigehiro Ozawa featuring an incredible performance from Sonny Chiba. It’s a film that is just silly fun while giving fans of martial arts film something to enjoy as it features a lot of ass-kicking and all sorts of crazy shit. In the end, The Street Fighter is a tremendous film from Shigehiro Ozawa.

Related: Return of the Street Fighter - (The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge)

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Auteurs #58: Jeff Nichols

Among a small group of filmmakers to make a name for himself in the past decade, Jeff Nichols is someone who has only made a handful of films so far in his career. However, he’s managed to attain loads of critical support as well as gain a growing audience interested in his stories about regular people dealing with the world and their surroundings as they’re mostly set in the American South. While many of his stories that are often set in his home state of Arkansas as well as rural places with people dealing with something that is either real or otherworldly. Nichols has crafted a body of work that is compelling as well as grounded in that air of realism and tenderness that many of today’s mainstream filmmakers aren’t making these days.

Born on December 7, 1978 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Jeff Nichols was born into a place that didn’t have much of a film culture yet would find some form of escape through books and films. Notably the work of Mark Twain who Nichols would consider to be a major influence in his writing while he was also interested in the world of cinema. Notably with the films of the New Hollywood era of 1970s American cinema and some of the films that was emerging during the 1980s. Through his interest in cinema, Nichols would attend the prestigious University of North Carolina School of Arts where it had become a starting point for emerging filmmakers such as David Gordon Green and Jody Hill who also made films set in the South. Nichols’ time at the school would prove to be a fruitful experience as he would meet those who would be part of his team of collaborators including cinematographer Adam Stone.

Shotgun Stories

Following his tenure at the University of North Carolina School of Arts, Nichols met another alumni in David Gordon Green who had been making critically-acclaimed films in the early 2000s as they were all set in the South. Green decided to produce Nichols’ first feature film as he would gather money to help get Nichols funding as well as offer him one of his editors in Steven Gonzales to edit the film for Nichols. For the casting, Nichols decided to cast several unknowns as well as actors that not many people knew. For the lead role of Son Hayes, Nichols cast Michael Shannon in the role as it would serve as a breakthrough for Shannon.

Shooting on location in small towns near Little Rock, Arkansas, Nichols’ film revolved around a family feud involving two sets of half-brothers who both share the same father but both endured different relationships and lives with their father. The film follows three men who live very simple but troubled lives who still bear the scars of abuse of their father as they learn that he’s died as they crash the funeral to say insults towards him only to set a firestorm against their half-brothers. The feud wouldn’t just lead to tragedy but also a sense of unease where it is clear that it has come to the realization that this family is beyond damaged as three of these men who are just trying to make something in their lives are doing what they can while also trying not to carry the sins of their parents. Much of the film was shot in 2004 yet it took years and more funding for the post-production as Green was involved with other projects during that time which led to the film’s delay. It was around that time that Nichols brought in his brother Ben who was in the alt-country band Lucero to provide some score music as he would become an occasional collaborator for Nichols.

After some delay, the film made its premiere in February of 2007 at the Berlin Film Festival where it was well received as it led to a run of festival appearances that brought a lot of word of mouth for the film. Following a limited release in March of 2008 where it only made more than $168,000 against its $250,000 budget. The film was still a favorite with the critics as it made it into some top-ten lists for the year of 2008 including from the famed Roger Ebert who named the film one of the year’s best.

Take Shelter

Despite the critical support he’s received for his first film, Nichols knew that being an independent filmmaker wasn’t going to be easy as he still took the time to develop his next project. That project eventually fell apart yet he did get the attention of independent film producer Sophia Lin who did accept another script that Nichols was working that would be his next film. The film would be about a man having a strange premonition about a storm coming to his home as he is consumed by fear and paranoia to protect his family while wondering if it’s all true. The film would be a more ambitious project than his first film as Lin would team up with Tyler Davidson to produce it as they gained nearly $5 million for the budget.

With Michael Shannon playing the lead role of Curtis LaForche, Nichols would also cast veteran actors such as Ray McKinnon as Curtis’ older brother and Kathy Baker as their mother while noted characters Katy Mixon and Shea Whigham would play supporting parts. For the role of Curtis’ wife, Jessica Chastain was cast as she was about to make waves for her work in Terrence Malick’s 2011 film The Tree of Life. The film would be mostly shot and set in Lagrange, Ohio with some additional shooting near Austin, Texas and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with regular cinematographer Adam Stone in 2010. While Nichols wasn’t able to get his brother Ben to create music, he was given the chance to work with composer David Wingo who had been scoring music for David Gordon Green and Jody Hill.

The film made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2011 where it was a big hit at the festival where it would receive a festival run for much of the year and then picked up by Sony Pictures Classic for a limited release in late September that year. The film would be a modest commercial success making back its budget yet it was a major hit with critics as the film was praised for its story as well as Shannon’s performance. Its success also gave Nichols some major clout as he was already embarking on his next project.


Since the premiere of Take Shelter at Sundance in early 2011, Nichols had been approached to make more films as he got the attention of producer Sarah Green who had also worked with Jessica Chastain on The Tree of Life. Inspired by the works of Mark Twain, Nichols’ third film would be about two boys who meet a mysterious drifter in an island in the middle of Arkansas River. The film would be a coming-of-age tale where a young boy not only learns about first love but also help a man try to reach out to a former flame. The project was fascinating as it got the attention of Matthew McConaughey who agreed to play the role of the titular character. Green provided Nichols the services of casting director Francine Maisler who would bring in Tye Sheridan from The Tree of Life to play Ellis while Jacob Lofland would play Ellis’ friend Neckbone. The cast would also include Reese Witherspoon as Mud’s old flame Juniper as well as small roles from Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Joe Don Baker, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, and Sam Shepard.

Retaining the services of cinematographer Adam Stone, composer David Wingo, and Nichols’ brother Ben providing additional music. The crew would also include production designer Richard A. Wright and editor Julie Monroe as the latter would become part of Nichols’ stable of recurring collaborators. Production began in September of 2011 in Arkansas as Nichols was given a $10 million budget as well as complete access to shooting around various locations in his home state. Especially in its river where Nichols and Wright helped create a boat that would be placed on a tree as it was integral for the plot. Nichols didn’t just want an air of realism but also that air of suspense as it relates to old enemies of Mud who want him dead.

The film made its premiere in May of 2012 at the Cannes Film Festival playing in competition for the Palme d’Or. While it didn’t win any prizes at the festival, the film was a major hit as it helped raise Nichols’ profile as a filmmaker as well as give Matthew McConaughey more acclaim where many believed he was in the midst of a career resurrection. Following its limited release in the U.S. in April of 2013, the film would be a hit not just critically but also commercially as it made more than $21 million in the U.S. box office and $11 million more worldwide. Though the film got overlooked during the awards season, the film would receive the Robert Altman Award for its ensemble at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards.

Midnight Special

Following a break between films where Nichols had become a father, his time becoming a father would lead to a new project that would be about a father trying to protect his son from the government and a mysterious cult with the help of his estranged wife and a friend of theirs as they go on the road and on the run. The film was partially-inspired by Nichols’ love of sci-fi films including John Carpenter’s 1984 film Starman. Nichols took some time to write the script as he would get the support of producer Sarah Green as well as retain many of collaborators from his last film to be on board for the project while Michael Shannon was cast as the lead role of Roy Tomlin with recurring collaborators Sam Shepard and Paul Sparks playing small supporting roles. The cast would also include Joel Edgerton as Roy’s friend Lucas, Kirsten Dunst as Roy’s estranged wife Sarah, Adam Driver as government agent Paul Sevier, and Jaeden Lieberher as Roy’s son Alton.

Production began in January of 2014 with a $18 million budget in New Orleans where much of the film was shot there. The film would be Nichols’ most ambitious as it would rely partially on visual effects as Nichols wanted to maintain something that is real. Especially as it is about that relationship between father and son as they both try to escape the cult leader who is Roy’s father and wants Alton for something that he believes would send him to some kind of world. Nichols also wanted that air of suspense and action to be used but in a minimal sense so that it doesn’t deter from the heart of the story as some of the sci-fi elements didn’t just have some real-life stakes but also would be presented in a climax that is otherworldly.

Though the film was slated for a late 2015 release, it took some time for some of the post-production to be finished as well as the fact that Nichols was already working on another project at the same time. The film made its premiere at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival that May where it drew rave reviews as it led to a spring theatrical release in the U.S. While it would make $6.2 million in the U.S. box office despite the film being Nichols’ first film on a wide release scale. The film still managed to be a favorite with the critics as it helped give Nichols some mainstream visibility while maintaining his status as an independent filmmaker.


Nichols’ newest feature film is a dramatization over the real-life marriage between Richard and Mildred Loving as it was seen as illegal since the former was white and the latter was black. Starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in their respective roles as Richard and Mildred Loving with supporting parts from Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll, Bill Camp, and Marton Csokas. Featuring the same collaborators that Nichols worked with in his previous work, the film marks as Nichols’ first period film as well as it wasn’t a film Nichols wanted to do but was convinced by his wife to do it. The film made its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival that May where it was a major hit as it would get its theatrical release in November.

While he’s only made five feature films so far, Jeff Nichols is already creating a body of work that most filmmakers wish they could have as he is already on a roll. In an age where Hollywood wants to make films based on gimmicks, franchises, and such, Nichols is a filmmaker that American cinema needs as he creates stories about real people dealing with some type of situation whether it’s mysterious or real. Even as they’re set in places that is more homegrown rather than be set in cities or places that are often seen in Hollywood. If there’s any filmmaker that deserves a place to be called the best American filmmaker working today, it’s Jeff Nichols.

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trances (1981 film)

Written, shot, and directed by Ahmed El Maanoui, Trances is a documentary film about the Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane who creates music that express the social and political world of Morocco. The film follows a band trying to make music for a country that isn’t known for making modern music as they try to make a dent into the world outside of Morocco. The result is a fascinating and exhilarating film from Ahmed El Maanoui.

The band Nass El Ghiwane that consists of percussionist Labri Batma, percussionist Omar Sayed, banjoist Allal Yaala, and bassist Abderrahman Paco had become a popular sensation in their native country of Morocco as they sing folk-inspired songs about the country around them. It’s a film that isn’t just about this band but also the world of Morocco and its culture as well as some of the political and social turmoil in the country. At the same time, there is an element of history about Morocco’s music culture as well as the songs the band perform as it relates to a few folk heroes and things around them. Still, some of the band members have day-to-day jobs they do to get by but also play shows not really for money but to entertain the people.

Told through a mixture of live performances, interviews, and profiles on the band and its individual members with some stock footage of the world of Moroccan theatre in the 1960s. Even as some of the music that was made during those times were controversial as Sayed’s brother was a popular folk singer in his time until his death in the early 1970s. The band Nass El Ghiwane plays only all acoustic, organic, and traditional instruments of their homeland not because it’s what they have but it’s also to maintain that sense of identity in a world where everyone has to keep up with the times.

Ahmed El Maanoui’s direction is very simple as it play into the excitement of the audience reacting to the music as well as capture a world that is quite lively despite not having many of the things expected in modern-day Western society. With the aid of editor Jean-Claude Bonfanti in compiling some of the stock footage and sound recordist Ricardo Castro in capturing the music played on film. El Maanoui would create something that is vibrant as it showcases how much the music so much to the people who feel removed from the modern world.

Trances is a phenomenal film from Ahmed El Maanoui that explores the music of Nass El Ghiwane. It’s a film that manages to showcase a culture that is very unique as well as enthralling while maintaining its sense of identity in an ever-changing world. In the end, Trances is a sensational film from Ahmed El Maanoui.

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

La Cravate

Based on the novella The Transposed Heads by Thomas Mann, Les tetes interverties (also known as La Cravate) is the story of a merchant who helps a young man find love through some very strange means. Written for the screen, directed, and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky, the twenty-minute short film is a surrealist take on Mann’s story told largely through mime. Also starring Raymond Devos, Saul Gilbert, Marthe Mercury, and Margot Loyola. Les tetes interverties is a whimsical and delightful short film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The film is a simple story of a young man trying to woo a woman yet he is unsuccessful until he meets a merchant who will help but through means that are very controversial as it relates to severed heads. It’s a film that knows what it is as well as not be afraid to be silly as Alejandro Jodorowsky takes a story that is odd and macabre but make it enjoyable. Jodorowsky’s script doesn’t have any dialogue but it does play into this young man wanting to impress a woman but is continuously unsuccessful as he tries to put on different heads to win her over. Jodorowsky’s direction definitely emphasizes a lot of mime performance where the actors, including Jodorowsky as the lead role, express themselves physically while being playful in their performance.

Many of the compositions are simple where Jodorowsky’s usage of close-ups and medium shots play into whimsy nature of the film as well as the elements of surrealism. With the aid of editor Saul Gilbert in providing some straightforward cutting and some playful rhythms as it add to the visual presentation. Even the costumes by Ruth Michelly add to the film’s very low-budget but offbeat look as well as Edgar Bischoff’s music score that help maintain that sense of whimsy and charm. Overall, Jodorowsky creates a quirky yet enjoyable short film about a man trying to win over a girl.

Les tetes interverties is an excellent short film from Alejandro Jodorowsky. The film is a strange yet enjoyable film that play into Jodorowsky’s approach to surrealism as it marks as an early achievement for the famed cult filmmaker. In the end, Les tetes interverties is a brilliant film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: Teatro sin fin - (Fando y Lis) - El Topo - The Holy Mountain - (Tusk (1980 film)) - (Santa Sangre) - (The Rainbow Thief) - The Dance of Reality - (Endless Poetry)

Related: Jodorowsky's Dune - (The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky)

© thevoid99 2016